...with all your soul


Ok, forgive the pun! 


We continue today with our series on the basics of youth ministry as laid out by Jesus in Matthew 22. Right after saying that we must love God with all our hearts, Jesus jumps to another hard to define idea by suggesting that we need to love God with all of our souls. 


I thought perhaps a google search was in order to attempt to define what we mean (at least in these modern times) when we're talking about a soul. As is often the case, google did not disappoint: 

The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. 


The word that hops out at me from that definition is "immaterial." Madonna was right, we are living in a material world. We are focused beyond denial on what we make, what we bring in to the family, how much money is in our bank accounts, how good looking we are, how often we go to the gym, what style of clothing we're going to cover ourselves up with, or what style of clothing we're going to let provocatively show a little of ourselves with. By and large, in the American culture anyway, we don't care very much about the immaterial soul. 


For one thing, if my soul's in a good place, I can't show off for you. There's no comparing souls among competitive people. On the other hand, if my soul's in a bad place, I can keep that pretty well hidden, and so I do. But even when the soul is feeling very good, even when we've taken some time out of busy schedules to allow for soul care, the "buzz" we get from that is nothing like the feeling of buying a new pair of sneakers, and so we don't tend to worry about the soul. 


And yet, this idea of the soul is essential to Christian thought and practice, isn't it? When we pray, we're often encouraging that immaterial part of us to wake up and take part in things. When a piece of scripture speaks particularly clearly to us, we claim that it fed our souls. We are for sure behind the idea that the soul is immortal, that through Christ the eternity offered our souls is a glorious and divine one. 


So as we start into another season of ministry, how's your soul? Is it in a good place? Is it being drown out by the material "needs" we've conjured up? Is it being well fed by scripture and prayer and community with other good souls? Or is it tucked in the back of our consciousness?  


But even beyond that, if your soul is in a good place, then what does it look like to love God with all of it? The soul isn't typically thought of when it comes to love, that's something that we usually reserve for the heart. But if this immaterial part of us is capable of love, how do we direct that love towards God? I guess another way to approach that question is to ask what it looks like when our soul is pointed in a direction that is other than God. When we are too angry for too long, that's not healthy for the soul. When we pollute our selves with negativity and doubt, that's not healthy for the soul. When we too often ignore the scriptures and what they offer us for soul food, that's not good for the soul. 


And so before we begin this season, I'd invite you to spend a bit of time focused in on the soul. How is yours doing? And where is your soul pointing? 

Next: ...with all your mind.